Exclusive Interview with
Hayley Reese Chow
When did you start writing?
I started writing after I graduated from college. I was working part time while I waited to go out of duty, so I had some time on my hands. I read like crazy but I couldn't seem to find the book that I needed. So I wrote it!
What makes writing your passion?
I love the process of creation. I love creating something completely new and uniquely my own. When I start a story, I'm always writing for myself. I love building new worlds that stretch my imagination and meeting the cast of characters. And I love growing as a writer—learning new ways to spin words and weave a story.
I've always adored reading, but when I wrote my first book, I kind of expected it to be a bucket list, one time thing.
Oh man. I was so wrong.
How long have you been writing?
This is a little tough to gauge. I wrote my first novel in 2012 and it took me about three months. Then I didn't write another word again until 2017, when I wrote my second novel in a little over a month.
It wasn't until my kids started sleeping through the night in 2019 that I really started writing regularly. So I'll split the difference and say I've been writing creatively for about 2 years.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Amazing. Empowering. Freeing.
It had been a goal of mine to publish the book for 8 years, and finally gathering the courage to revise and put it out there was incredible.
It wasn't a dream anymore. It was a reality.
And I had learned so much through the process. With that realization, I knew I could do it again, and get even better.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
When I write a book, the plot always comes first for me. And as I explore the plot, the characters reveal themselves in bits and pieces. I really don't feel like I fully get to know them until the end of the first draft. They start with ideas or mash-ups of people or characters I've met before, but by the end they've evolved into something full and new.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Balancing writing with a career and family (especially with two little kids), I really have to be patient with my writing goals. I get about 2 hours every night to do writing stuff which could be writing, revising, editing, marketing, etc.
As much as I would love to devote more time to it and spend more time writing, it's my passion but not my day job, and my family will always come first. So I've learned to make small, achievable goals, and be patient with my timelines.
It will get done. Maybe not this week. Or next month. But it will get done.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Usually when I have writer's block it's because I have a problem with a story I don't know how to fix.
The problem will linger in the back of my mind until a solution arises, so I write something else until I sort it out. Sometimes a different WIP, sometimes flash fiction, sometimes bouncing ideas off my husband as he ever so patiently listens, but eventually I'll work it out and get back to it.
I think an important part of writer's block is knowing (at least for me) that there IS a solution, and if I think about it long enough, I'll find it.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
To quote Banksy, "If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit."
This has been critical for me. Rejection is hard. Writing can be hard. It's ok to take a break. Step away for awhile and take a breather. And when you come back to it with fresh eyes, you'll be ready to re-attack.
My other advice would be to connect with the writing community on social media. They have been a tremendous source of encouragement and wisdom that revolutionized my writing journey. So don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions!
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Take a creative writing class! I'm super bummed I missed out on that opportunity in college because I was too shy to put myself out there. Not so much for the instruction (there are great writing classes online) so much as connecting with other writing friends in person. That would have been so cool.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yep. I read every single one.
Criticism can be tough to take, but I try to focus on the constructive bits and leave everything else behind. I try to remind myself it's something every writer goes through, and people have different tastes, but it's still hard.
Reaching out to the writing community definitely helps. It's good to connect with others that are familiar with the territory.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I write for me, but I publish to connect with readers. It's a lot of work, but connecting with readers who truly love the story makes it worth it.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Absolutely. So many things that I write are inspired in part by things I've seen or heard, but by the time I've wrapped it in the setting, the characters, and the plot, it's almost unrecognizable. The feeling is usually there and the heart of it, but it's part of a different story.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I think the main character of my first novel, Odriel's Heirs, experiences a lot of the same feelings I did as a Div 1 collegiate athlete. She feels the emotional weight of the pressure and fear of people depending on her- of having to step into her own as a young adult. But the way she responds to those things is different based on her own background. I think all of my characters have a small piece of me, something I can directly relate to, but none of them get more than that.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
For me as a reader, not at all. I choose books based on recommendations and reviews, and I'm a big e-book reader, so I may only look at the cover once or twice.
As a writer, I love artwork and the challenge of trying to capture a book's essence on the cover to complete the package. It's definitely not as important as the story, but it's an amazing well to celebrate finishing.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I LOVE connecting with readers. If anyone ever wants to have a discussion about Anything at all that I've written, please don't hesitate to reach out on twitter or instagram.
I love hearing reader's thoughts, and talking about my stories, plus I think it helps me grow as a storyteller.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
It's an amazing feeling for people to appreciate my work. Like I said, I write for my but I publish for others, and there's a lot that goes into the publishing process. So when people enjoy it, it definitely keeps me going.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Nope. I have a hundred favorite authors.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
Eh I don't really care about being famous or anything. The goal is really just to continue growing as an author.